Has the makings of a bad song title, don't you think?
We are incredibly grateful to Delta for switching our flights without fee (!) thus avoiding having to spend last night frantically looking for a hotel room from JFK and again today as both flights home had been cancelled due to the impending snow storm.
Trip interruption insurance would have covered it and our food etc. but if you've ever had a flight cancelled, you know about the pandemonium that occurs shortly after the news gets around. And this is just one flight. Many other flights full of people were also in the same boat, all vying for the same things.
I had been keeping an eye on the development of the storm the last couple of days and here is what I would recommend doing should you find yourself in the same situation. With world weather seemingly getting more erratic and unpredictable, I do expect sooner or later, it will happen to you.
At first sign of an official travel alert, call them! The process of getting you on a different flight would be easier if you hadn't checked in already. If you have status with the airline, don't use the general line. Speak to someone who knows you are loyal. And if you are using Skype, change the country to your home country and call the 1 800 number from there so that you won't be charged.
We would like to think D would have gotten the same results but neither of us were willing to take the risk. Remember that you may be competing against the other 400+ people on the plane for limited seats. In our case, the alert was issued less than 24 hours from our flight. And this is still holiday time. And I knew our only options were to connect either via CDG or AMS.
Normally there is a $300 change fee that accompanies a change for an international flight. When an alert is posted by the airline allowing you to change, they will waive it. However, there are a myriad of other fees that make up a flight segment as well as a difference in price depending on the class of the flight. I'm not talking about the broad classes of first, business, economy, but within economy there are a dozen or so classes that determine not only price but the amount of qualification miles and bonuses one earns. Confused yet? We are.
So the goal becomes trying to find you the same class of flight segment in order to get a handle on costs. It is handy to check in advance what flights are selling for. Because it was so last minute, I was seeing outrageous prices -- 3200 Euro for the one way home. With credit card in hand and speaking with a second agent (as international flight changes via computer aren't "automatic") I made up my mind how much I'd be willing to pay to avoid the hassle at JFK.
I don't know who my agent spoke to behind the scenes but to my amazement I got both my flights changed to better, much more expensive segments for free. The next step was to get D's flight moved. He booked separately because he paid for it with points. Again she went away for a while and his change did incur a fee but it was also waived. I couldn't thank her enough.
She wasn't able to get us confirmed seat numbers as it was too close to the flight time but we saw that we were assigned seats upon check in. The important thing was that we were on the flight. There were only 8 seats left on the flight yesterday from Paris to Toronto.